Remembering the women: Elizabeth Depui Brodhead

1851 print by Nagel & Weingartner: Depiction of the women of Bryan Station getting water while Native Americans, who are about to besiege the settlement, watch. Famous event in Kentucky during the American Revolutionary War.

1851 print by Nagel & Weingartner: Depiction of the women of Bryan Station getting water while Native Americans, who are about to besiege the settlement, watch. Famous event in Kentucky during the American Revolutionary War (Wikimedia Commons: Public Domain in USA)

While, the men who served in the Revolutionary War are remembered with profound gratitude for their heroic sacrifices, it’s easy to forget that behind them stood an army of highly productive and devoted women: wives, sisters, grandmothers and daughters—women who strove to support the War efforts of their beloved, while keeping the home fires burning. How comforted the men must have been by this knowledge.

One such woman was Elizabeth Depui Brodhead, wife of the famous Colonel Daniel Brodhead and sister-in-law to my fifth great-grandfather Garret. A wonderful bit of biographical detail about Elizabeth can be found on pages 22-23 of Some Pennsylvania Women during the War of the Revolution, by William Henry Engle, MD (Harrisburg, PA: Harrisburg Publishing Co., 1898), and I am including it below. While much has been written about the Colonel, this is the first information I’ve found that sheds a tiny bit of light on Elizabeth. If you are aware of other examples, please share in the comment box below.

The Birth of Old Glory, painting by Edward Percy Moran, ca. 1917 (Public Domain - Wikimedia Commons)

The Birth of Old Glory, painting by Edward Percy Moran, ca. 1917 (Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons)

Elizabeth Depui, youngest daughter of Nicholas Depui, was born in 1740* in what is now Monroe county Pa. She was a descendant from Nicholas Depui, a Huguenot who fled from France to Holland in the year 1685 at the time of the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. Little is known of her early childhood. She received a pretty fair education at one of the Dutch schools in New York, but the major portion of her youthful days were spent on the frontiers of civilization, the wily savage ever hovering around the settlements of the Minisink. On more than one occasion she was obliged to flee to either the blockhouses or the more populous settlements for safety.

Shortly after her marriage she accompanied her husband to the town of Reading where she made her home until after the promulgation of peace. During that trying period the care of a young family was hers, and yet among that coterie of bright and heroic women of the Revolution who were in exile in Reading she shone with lustre. Nothing was too great for her to undertake and her patriotic ardor was always aroused for the welfare of the soldier of the Declaration. She administered to the comfort of the sick and wounded who found their way after convalescence to their several homes upon the frontiers. In those days, the women kept many in clothing as well as the necessaries of life. Help was needed everywhere, and as we of the present day minister to our troops from our abundance, the women of the Revolution did the same out of their poverty. It is true they accomplished much more than we at this distance of time can either appreciate or calculate. Theirs was a day of self denial.

Thomas Eakins' Homespun, 1881 (Wikimedia Commons: Public Domain)

Thomas Eakins’ Homespun, 1881 (Wikimedia Commons: Public Domain)

They delighted in homespun dresses while luxuries were prepared only for the sick and loving who were battling for the rights of mankind and the independence of their country. And yet we must honor the women of all crises in the history of our beloved land who lead in every philanthropic work to alleviate distress. Their forbears during the struggle for independence were animated by that enlarged patriotic spirit which will enshrine their names to the latest posterity. It was so eminently characteristic of them that a British officer, a prisoner of war, remarked that no soldiers whose mothers, wives, and daughters were so devoted to the cause and so self sacrificing could ever be conquered. Mrs. Brodhead died in the city of Philadelphia toward the close of the year 1799*, but exact date with place of burial have not been ascertained.

I’d love to find more such biographical detail on other women relevant to the families covered within this blog. If anyone has other examples to share, please get in touch/leave a comment. Meanwhile, you can check the list below to see whether any of your female Pennsylvania ancestors were also featured in this book.

********************************************************************************************************************
*Note: According to p. 74 of The Brodhead Family, Volume I, published by the Brodhead Family Association (Port Ewen, NY: 1986), Elizabeth was born in 1739 and was the daughter of Samuel Depuy and Jane McDowell. Also, per their records, she died sometime before 16 May 1781 at Reading, Berks Co., PA. (Daniel married again–his second wife was Rebecca Edgill Mifflin. She died in Philadelphia and was buried there on 15 February 1788.)

NB: Depui is spelled in many different ways (visit Depuy Surname History for a rundown).

Resources:
Women in the American Revolution
The Roles of Women in the Revolutionary War
The Homespun Movement – interesting PDF

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Other women featured in this book:
Elizabeth Wilkins Allison, 9; Allison, John 9
Rebecca Lyon Armstrong, 11; Armstrong, John 12
Sarah Richardson Atlee, 15; Atlee, Samuel John 15
Mary Quigley Brady, 18; Brady, John 18
Elizabeth Depui Brodhead, 22; Brodhead, Daniel 23
Eleanor Lytle Brown, 26; Brown, Matthew 26
Mary Phillips Bull, 29; Bull, John 29
Sarah Shippen Burd, 33; Burd, James 34
Katharine Hamilton Chambers, 3; Chambers, James 39
Elizabeth Zane Clark, 42; Clark, John 44
Jane Roan Clingan, 45; Clingan, William Jr 46
Martha Crawford Cook, 47; Cook, Edward 47
Sarah Simpson Cooke, 49; Cooke, William 49
Margaret Cochran Corbin, 58; Corbin, John 52
Mary Kelsey Cutter Covenhoven, 55; Covenhoven, Robert 55
Hannah Vance Crawford, 58; Crawford, William 58
Catharine Martin Davidson, 62; Davidson, James 63
Annie Schenck Davies, 65; Davies, Hezekiah 60
Hannah Blair Foster, 67; Foster, William 67
Anne West Gibson, 70; Gibson, George 70
Rachel Marx Graydon, 73; Graydon, Alexander 74
Catharine Ewing Hand, 78; Hand, Edward 79
Margaret Alexander Hamilton, 81; Hamilton, John 81
Katharine Holtzinger Hartley, 83; Hartley, Thomas 83
Mary Ludwig Hays, 85; Hays, John 85
Ann Wood Henry, 87; Henry, William 87
Crecy Covenhoven Hepburn, 90; Hepburn, William 91
Sarah Harris Irvine, 92; Irvine, James 92
Anne Callender Irvine, 94; Irvine, William 95
Jean McDowell Irwin, 98; Irwin, Archibald 98
Alice Erwin Johnston, 100; Johnston, Francis 100
Martha Beatty Johnston, 103; Johnston, Thomas 103
Ann West Alricks Lowrey, 105; Lowrey, Alexander 105
Sarah Nelson McAlister, 108; McAlister, Hugh 108
Sarah Holmes McClean, 110; McClean, Alexander 112
Martha Sanderson McCormick, 113; McCormick, Robert 113
Margaret Lewis McFarland, 115; McFarland, Andrew 115
Martha Hoge McKee, 117; McKee, Thomas 117
Margaret Stout Macpherson, 119; Macpherson, William 120
Marritie Van Brunt Magaw, 122; Magaw, Robert 122
Susanna Miller Mickley, 124; Mickley, John Jacob 124
Sarah Morris Mifflin, 127; Mifflin, Thomas 128
Rachel Rush Boyce Montgomery, 130; Montgomery, Joseph 1
Elizabeth Thompson Moorhead, I34; Moorhead, Fergus 134
Mary White Morris, 137; Morris, Robert 13s
Margaret Mayes Murray, 140; Murray, James 141
Winifred Oldham Neville, I42; Neville, John 143
Mary Carson O’Hara, 14; O’Hara, James 146
Rosina Kucher Orth, I48; Orth, Balzer I48
Sarah McDowell Piper, 150; Piper, William 151
Margaret Lowrey Plumer, 152; Plumer, George I52
Elizabeth Potter Poe, 157; Poe, James 158
Margaret O Brien Pollock, 160; Pollock, Oliver 161
Elizabeth Parker Porter, I64; Porter, Andrew 166
Elizabeth Myer Kelly, 168; Kelly, John 168
Jane Ralston Rosbrugh, 171; Rosbrugh, John 171
Phoebe Bayard St Clair, 171; St Clair, Arthur 174
Margaret Murray Simpson, 178; Simpson, John 178
Maria Thompson Sproat, 180; Sproat, William 180
Martha Espy Stewart, 182; Stewart, Lazarus 182
Hannah Tiffany Swetland, I84; Swetland, Luke 185
Ursula Muller Thomas, 187; Thomas, Martin 187
Catharine Ross Thompson, I89; Thompson, William 190
Hannah Harrison Thomson, 192; Thomson, Charles 193
Elizabeth Grosz Traill, 195; Traill, Robert 19
Lydia Hollingsworth Wallis, 198; Wallis, Samuel 198
Jean Murray Watts, 201; Watts, Frederick 201
Mary Penrose Wayne, 204; Wayne, Anthony 205
Mary Agneta Bechtel Weygandt, 207; Weygandt, Cornelius 207

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Categories: Brodhead, Monroe Co., Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Revolutionary War | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “Remembering the women: Elizabeth Depui Brodhead

  1. Excellent! I’m guilty of writing about the soldier (boys) who went off to war, and then rarely write about this time in the related women in their lives. Gave me something to think about 🙂

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  2. I’ve read a lot on the Revolutionary War and I have always been struck by how incredibly difficult it was for the women left behind who had to fill both their roles and those of their husbands. –Curt

    Like

  3. The suffering on the home front in any war is great. In today’s age the home front is a luxury that is not afforded to many. This is due to the civilian population being part of the battlefield. In war great sacrifice is made by all. I can’t help but wonder how much easier peace would be. But that seems to be beyond the reach of us humans. I seemed to have gotten up on a soap box, I will step down now.

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